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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian's Regular Press Conference on July 26, 2021
2021/07/26

CCTV: State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi held the 3rd round of China-Pakistan Foreign Ministers' Strategic Dialogue with Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi in Chengdu, Sichuan Province. Could you give us a bit more on that?

Zhao Lijian: On July 24, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi held the 3rd round of China-Pakistan Foreign Ministers' Strategic Dialogue with Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi in Chengdu. The two sides had in-depth exchange of views on international and regional issues of common concern.

State Councilor Wang Yi pointed out that since China and Pakistan set up diplomatic ties 70 years ago, the two countries have worked together to overcome many difficulties and obstacles, defeated various risks and challenges, forged an ironclad friendship, and established an all-weather strategic partnership of cooperation. A high degree of mutual trust, mutual assistance, seeking peace and promoting development together are the most distinctive features of China-Pakistan relations, and the greatest strength in moving forward together. China is willing to work with Pakistan to take the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations as an opportunity to accelerate the construction of a closer community with a shared future in the new era, bring more benefits to the two peoples, and make greater contributions to regional stability and prosperity.

Foreign Minister Qureshi extended felicitations to the Chinese side on the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China (CPC). He said the Pakistani side wished the Chinese government and people greater success in achieving the goal of socialist modernization in 2035 and building a great modern socialist country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced, harmonious and beautiful in 2049, under the inspiring and visionary leadership of the CPC, with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core. He said that China is Pakistan's long-standing strategic partner. Strengthening the ironclad Pakistan-China friendship is the common understanding of the whole country and the basis of Pakistan's foreign policies. In the face of the major global changes, it is indispensable to enhance the coordination and cooperation between Pakistan and China. Pakistan is ready to join hands with China to respond to possible challenges and lift bilateral relations to a new level.

The two sides sternly condemned the terrorist attack targeting Chinese nationals in Pakistan, mourn the lost lives, and express sincere sympathies to the injured. Both sides spoke highly of the outcomes of anti-epidemic cooperation, agreed to continue the high-quality construction of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), strengthen coordination on international and regional affairs, jointly oppose hegemonism and unilateralism, promote the common values of humanity. The two sides agreed on continuing their unyielding support on issues concerning each other's core national interests; underscored that a peaceful, stable, cooperative and prosperous South Asia was in the common interest of all countries; decided to launch joint actions on Afghan issue, and reaffirmed their commitment to facilitate and support "Afghan-led and Afghan-owned" peace and reconciliation process.

China Daily: In recent days, media outlets and experts from several countries have voiced their criticisms against the US politicization of origins tracing and said there should be a probe into the US and the Fort Detrick lab. What's your comment on that?

Zhao Lijian: For some time, the voice of reason has been growing in the international community, criticizing the US politicization of origins tracing and calling for a probe into the Fort Detrick lab.

Sergei Latyshev, a Russian journalist and historian, wrote in his article that the US is trying to "pin" COVID-19 on China and that coronavirus is used for international blackmail. Abbey Makoe, former political editor at the South African Broadcasting Corporation, stressed in his opinion piece that it is morally incorrect for the US politicize science-based collaborative work under the auspices of the WHO. Hamdhan Shakeel, senior editor of Maldives News Network, pointed out that some western states, instead of tracing the origins of the virus in a scientific manner but out of racism, are attempting to shift the blame to China by distorting facts and spreading disinformation surrounding the COVID-19 virus. The Korean Times and Japan Today published op-eds that criticized the US politicization of origins tracing. They noted that the coronavirus may have spread in the US back in December 2019, and that the US, instead of China, should be the primary target of a new global probe into the origins of COVID-19.

Stephen Kinzer, a former foreign correspondent for the New York times and Senior Fellow in International and Public Affairs of Watson Institute, Brown University noted, the Fort Detrick has dark history as it had cooperation with Japanese war criminals and is still a biological warfare research center in the US. He said a deep investigation into Fort Detrick would be interesting. Mauro Gia Samote, a well-known Philippine columnist, highlighted in his piece unsolved mysteries which include the leakage of coronavirus from the United States Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases laboratory inside Fort Detrick and cluster cases of pneumonia outbreaks in Maryland in 2019. He found the lack of any investigations by the US government very suspicious. World News of the Philippines stressed in its editorial that WHO experts should respond to Chinese netizens' appeal by pushing the US to open the Fort Detrick lab for origins studies. Sovereign PH published an article that said the US has been aggressively selling the conspiracy theory about China and it should open Fort Detrick for global COVID-19 origins tracing.

These examples fully show that origins tracing is a scientific matter and should not be politicized. Some in the US are obsessed with using origins tracing for political manipulation in order to deflect attention and shift blames. Their malicious motive has long been exposed to the world. The US has the largest number of confirmed cases; the timeline of early cases in the US has been constantly dialed forward; and the mysteries around Fort Detrick and EVALI remain unsolved. If labs are to be investigated, then the WHO experts should go to Fort Detrick. The US should act in a transparent and responsible way as soon as possible and invite WHO experts to the US for an inquiry into the Fort Detrick lab so that truth can be revealed to the world.

Global Times: According to the latest statistics, over 13 million Chinese netizens have signed the joint open letter calling on the WHO to investigate the biological laboratory at Fort Detrick. So far, we have not seen a positive response from the US. What is particularly regrettable is that the server of the endorsement has come under attacks from US-based IP addresses. Do you have any comment?

Zhao Lijian: First, a huge thumbs-up for the Global Times open letter. On this issue, the US owes the Chinese netizens two explanations.

First, the US should offer a responsible explanation on all the suspicion surrounding the biological laboratory at Fort Detrick. Why is it still playing dumb when over 13 million Chinese netizens have called for justice? Why did it keep obfuscating and stonewalling on this issue? Where is the transparency it claims?

Second, the US should offer a responsible explanation on the cyber attacks on the endorsement server originating from US soil. Just last week, it rallied a few allies to hurl unfounded accusations smearing China on cybersecurity. The attacks on the endorsement server once again revealed the hypocrisy and double standard of the US on cybersecurity and its true face as the top "hacking empire" in the world. If the US truly defends cybersecurity and supports freedom of speech, then it should reflect upon itself and join other countries in safeguarding cyber security instead of condoning hacking activities at home while slinging mud at others.

Beijing Youth Daily: On July 25, the World Heritage Committee inscribed "Quanzhou: Emporium of the World in Song-Yuan China" on UNESCO's World Heritage List during its 44th session, bringing the number of world heritage sites in China to 56. Do you have any comment on this?

Zhao Lijian: We extend warm congratulations to Quanzhou on its inscription on UNESCO's World Heritage List. The World Heritage Committee unanimously decided to inscribe "Quanzhou: Emporium of the World in Song-Yuan China" on the World Heritage List. This shows the committee's recognition of the outstanding universal value of Quanzhou as a prominent city of economic and cultural exchange between China and the rest of the world, an important node on the maritime Silk Road, and a fine specimen of global maritime trading hub during the Song and Yuan dynasties (10th-14th centuries AD). The inscription also reflects international acknowledgment of the contemporary relevance and historical value of Quanzhou's role in driving exchange and mutual learning between different civilizations, promoting sustainable development and fostering a community with a shared future for mankind.

Once known as Zayton, Quanzhou's history dates back to over 1,300 years ago. During the Song and Yuan periods, the city flourished amid the booming global maritime trade, becoming a hub for the trade network spanning across East Asia and Southeast Asia. "With the rising tide, merchant ships from all countries come ashore to trade". This line by a Song dynasty poet captured the vibrancy of the bustling emporium at the time. Quanzhou witnessed the brilliant historical chapter of exchange and mutual learning between ancient China and other countries. It carries the heritage of the Chinese nation's pursuit of self-improvement and win-win cooperation with a pioneering spirit. It stands as an epitome of the splendor achieved by opening up to the world throughout China's history.

The preservation of a series of cultural heritage from the 10th to 14th century in Quanzhou would not have been possible without China's persevering protection efforts. Since its accession to the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage in 1985, China has been conscientiously implementing the Convention with a strong sense of responsibility to history and the public. With constantly improving capability, we have been doing a better job of heritage protection, contributing Chinese wisdom, solutions and strength to world heritage protection. Going forward, we stand ready to work together with other countries and UNESCO to strengthen exchange and cooperation, promote dialogue, exchange and mutual learning between civilizations, support the cause of world heritage protection, act as good custodians to the cultural jewels and natural treasures of all humanity, and build a community with a shared future for mankind.

CGTN: State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi recently held talks with Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto in Chengdu, Sichuan Province. Do you have more to share on that?

Zhao Lijian: On July 25, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi held talks with Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto in Chengdu. They had an in-depth exchange of ideas on bilateral relations and issues of common concern.

State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi noted that Finland is among the first Western countries to establish diplomatic relations with new China. Mutual respect, friendship and cooperation has always been the defining theme of China-Finland ties. We appreciate Finland's recently-released Governmental Action Plan on China 2021, which stressed the importance of strengthening cooperation with China. We also stand ready to dovetail development strategies with Finland and step up exchange and cooperation in scientific and technological innovation, circular economy and clean technology. Finland is welcome to join the Belt and Road Initiative and realize greater win-win cooperation to contribute more to regional and global peace and development.

Foreign Minister Haavisto said that Finland attaches high importance to the fruitful relations with China and would like to enhance mutual understanding, strengthen dialogue and communication, deepen mutually-beneficial cooperation, and strive for greater progress in bilateral relations. He expressed the hope that the two sides may discuss launching a fast track and move forward cooperation in such areas as connectivity, climate change, green economy, data security and Arctic affairs.

The two sides agreed to work hand in hand to earnestly implement the two heads of state's strategic consensus on developing a future-oriented new-type cooperative partnership. First, explore pathways to a new-type partnership that will enable countries with different history, culture and social system to seek common ground, shelve differences and conduct win-win cooperation. Second, fully unleash the potential for practical cooperation, seek greater synergy between the BRI and Finland's development strategy, promote cooperation in emerging sectors like scientific and technological innovation, circular economy and clean technology, and open up wider to each other. Third, work for the sound and steady development of China-EU relations, promote the green and digital partnership, and advance trade and investment liberalization and facilitation between the two sides. Fourth, adhere to true multilateralism, jointly uphold the UN-centered international system, address global threats such as COVID-19, climate change and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and work toward a community with a shared future for mankind.

Reuters: I wanted to ask a question about a report by the Financial Times that said Britain is exploring ways to remove China's state-owned nuclear energy company China General Nuclear Power Group from all future projects in the UK. Does the foreign ministry have any information on this? Or does it have any comment?

Zhao Lijian: I noted the report. I would like to say that China and the UK are important partners in trade and investment. To conduct practical cooperation following the principle of mutual benefit and win-win results serves the interests of both. The British side should provide an open, fair and non-discriminatory business environment for Chinese companies.

CRI: According to reports, Fiame Naomi Mata'afa has become Samoa's new Prime Minister, as her predecessor Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, former Samoan Prime Minister and leader of the Human Rights Protection Party, gave his farewell speech. What is your comment?

Zhao Lijian: The Chinese side extends its congratulations to Ms. Fiame Naomi Mata'afa on being elected Prime Minister of the new government of Samoa. As comprehensive strategic partners, China and Samoa are committed to mutual respect and common development. China-Samoa relations feature long-standing friendship and enjoy the endorsement and support of the two peoples. Cooperation between our two countries is for mutual benefits and win-win results, hence improving the wellbeing of both peoples. China attaches high importance to growing relations with Samoa, and stands ready to work with the new government of Samoa to enhance people-to-people interactions, deepen cooperation across the board, and continue to promote steady growth of bilateral friendly relations.

SCMP: First, US Deputy Secretary of State Sherman is visiting the Chinese city of Tianjin. How does China assess the progress of the talks with the US? The US side said prior to the visit that it hoped Sherman's visit would help set up "guardrails" to see to it that the bilateral relationship won't become worse. Could I have China's view on that? Second, according to media reports, US forces recently intensified airstrikes in southern Afghanistan's Kandahar to counter offensives by the Taliban. Does China have any comment?

Zhao Lijian: On your first question, China has already released readouts on US Deputy Secretary of State Sherman's visit, which is still underway.

During the talks, the Chinese side faced the existing problems in bilateral relations squarely, expounded on China's attitude and position on developing relations with the US in a candid manner, expressed its unequivocal opposition to the US side's practice of interfering in China's internal affairs and harming China's interests, and made it clear that the US side must change course and correct its mistakes. The two sides also had in-depth exchange of views on a wide range of issues of their respective and mutual interest. The US side sought China's cooperation and support on climate change, Iran and the Korean nuclear issue among others. In fact, China has been playing a responsible and constructive role on all these issues. It needs to be emphasized that cooperation should be based on mutual trust, mutual benefit and a sound atmosphere for bilateral relations. The US should adopt a correct view of cooperation. It simply won't work when the US seeks cooperation with China while harming China's interests.

Apart from expounding on its principle position on China-US relations, and requiring the US side to change its extremely wrong perception and dangerous policy toward China, China once again expressed strong dissatisfaction with the US side over its wrong words and deeds on issues relating to COVID-19 origin-tracing, Taiwan, Xinjiang, Hong Kong and the South China Sea, urging the US side to immediately stop interfering in China's internal affairs, stop damaging the interests of China, stop crossing the red lines and playing with fire, and stop seeking bloc confrontation under the guise of values. We urge the US to never underestimate the strong resolution, determination and capability of the 1.4 billion Chinese people to safeguard national sovereignty, security and development interests.

On the whole, the talks have been profound, candid and helpful for the two sides to gain a better understanding of each other's position and seek healthy development of China-US relations going forward.

On your second question, the situation in Afghanistan has come to a critical crossroads with severe challenges. War or peace, chaos or order, much is at stake. China always believes that political negotiation is the only correct way to resolve the Afghan issue.

It needs to be stressed that the recent sudden announcement by the US of full withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan is the root cause of the acute deterioration of the security situation there. It puts Afghanistan's peace and stability as well the security interests of regional countries under grave threat. As the culprit that started the Afghan issue, the US must assume its due responsibility and take concrete actions to ensure a steady transition and prevent terrorist forces from swooping in and strengthening their hold, so as to safeguard the peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan.

Bloomberg: In the talks in Tianjin,China has put forward two lists to the US. One is a list of wrongdoings that must stop and the second is a list of key individual cases that China has concerns with. Do you have any details or any more information? What wrongdoings are on the first list? What sort of individual cases are on the second?

Zhao Lijian: In the list of wrongdoings, China urges the US side to unconditionally revoke visa restrictions on members of the Communist Party of China and their family members, revoke sanctions on Chinese leaders, officials and government agencies, cancel visa restrictions on Chinese students, stop suppressing Chinese companies, stop harassing Chinese students overseas, stop attacking the Confucius Institute, remove the registration of Chinese media as foreign agents or foreign missions, and drop the extradition of Meng Wanzhou and so on.

In the list of key individual cases that China has concerns with, China expresses its grave concerns over the individual cases including the rejection of visa application of some Chinese students, unfair treatment of Chinese citizens, the harassment and storming of the Chinese embassy and consulates, and the growing anti-Asia, anti-China sentiment in the US. China asked the US side to address the cases as soon as possible, and earnestly respect and protect the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese citizens and institutions.

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